Rock Band Status: September 3, 2012

Sep 03 2012

It’s been a month and a half since I last posted here—I’d hit a wall on pro guitar, and while my plan was to start over when that happened, being more selective on what I played and trying to get really good at a few songs, that plan was interrupted by a vacation, two sets of guests, and a conference. But that’s all over, and this was a three day weekend, so: time to get back in the saddle!

Which, to be honest, my brain wasn’t really raring to do. That’s probably the reason why I downloaded Rock Band Blitz on Saturday and ended up spending almost seven hours on it. My basic takeaway is that it’s a quite reasonable price for a 25-song pack, but as a game I’m not impressed with it, and I don’t like the coins mechanic; I played it for maybe another hour today and I’m not sure I’ll play it again, I have a strong preference for the regular Rock Band gameplay.

On Sunday, though, I did pick up the guitar, going back to tier zero songs. Specifically, I started with The Hardest Button to Button—it’s the song that the training goals encourage you to start with, so it seemed like a good place to restart. And wow, I was a little rustier than I realized: it’s mostly slow arpeggiated power chords, with a few non-arpeggiated ones thrown in, but I made more mistakes than I would have liked. Still, after a while (an hour? two hours?) I was playing it acceptably well—I didn’t get a full combo (though it seemed like that’s plausibly in reach), but I did get gold stars, which is good enough for me. Sounded fine plugged in, too; a pleasant song to have gone through again, but it’s basic enough that I don’t think I’ll particularly return to it.

The next song that I went through was I Love Rock and Roll: I reminded myself of the basics of it yesterday and focused on the solo today. It’s a song that I like (both playing and singing) and that I think will be good for me—the power chords are straightforward, but there’s a solo that I thought was within reach, and a tremolo bit that’s good practice.

And I was pleased to find out today that yes, the solo is within reach: I managed to get 100% on it not only on practice mode but when playing through the song in game. It’s near the edge of my capabilities, and it’s again pointing out areas where I’m rusty (as well as the fact that my calluses have receded!); I plan to add that solo to my regular out-of-game practice routine. Partly because of that rust but partly because playing it unmuted pointed out areas where I should consider working on my technique: the game encourages me to play certain bits as pull-offs, but they sound lousy when I do that, which either means I should work on that bit of my technique or I should strum those notes. Definitely something to work on.

The song is, sadly, kind of frustrating to play unmuted in game, because the non-solo/tremolo bits have enough pauses in them that the game picks up false strums all the time. Though the good thing there is that I eventually figured out how to turn down the crowd noise, so at least I’m not getting booed; that makes it manageable. And when I played it muted, I did quite well: I didn’t manage gold stars, but I did get one playthrough with a 184-note streak. (And where I missed some easy notes at the start—if I’d been crisper there, maybe I would have gotten gold stars.)

So: back in the saddle, with a bunch of free weekends ahead of me. With one new addition to my practice repertoire; and I did well enough on both of this weekend’s songs that I plan to move onto new songs next weekend.

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